Every day, thousands of Americans scour the internet for instructions on how to get oil stains out of clothes. At Judi’s Cleaners, our dry-cleaning technicians and stain removal experts are all too familiar with the questions they ask.
Many people throw away good clothes before their time because of oil stains, but if you lead a busy life, they’re inescapable.
Many people want to learn how to get oil stains out of clothes without knowing what type of oil stain they have on their hands. This post will detail what makes oil stains hard to remove and what solutions you can try that will not damage or discolor your clothes.
Reading instructional material on how to get oil stains out of clothes can be a time-consuming endeavor if you don’t know your enemy.
It’s essential to know your oil stain type to avoid damaging your clothes with high-strength cleaners that might leave an even bigger stain when you finish cleaning.
Our professional dry-cleaners describe oil stains as one of four things:
Let’s go over each type of stain and how to best remove it.
Enzymatic oil stains are born from proteinic substances attempting to break down starchy substances. Suppose you’re on a picnic and you sit on the grass. The proteinic substances on the blades will try to latch onto the starches on the surface of your pants in an attempt to break them down.
Blood acts the same way, so our cleaners classify blood marks as enzymatic oil stains. If you take a trip to the supermarket, you will find enzymatic detergents with ingredients like protease, which simplifies protein molecules down to their base components. For example, amylase and lipase break down fats and carbohydrates.
Most food stains are protein and fat-based, like chocolate, mayonnaise, and grease. If you’re looking for a quick way to remove them while attending a dinner party, try putting an enzymatic cleaner onto a toothbrush or a piece of cloth and rubbing them lightly, which will turn them a few shades lighter.
For a more long-term solution, presoak your oil-stained clothes in enzymatic cleaner overnight before washing them the usual way.
Oxidizable stains can come from a broad range of household products, such as grape juice, wine, and tea. If you find a brightly colored splotch on your shirt and you don’t know how it got there, chances are, it’s a stain from an oxidizable liquid. Most oxidizable substances are beverage-based, without any gel or grease-like qualities.
Most grease stains from oxidizable sources are from light sauces, like ketchup and marinara sauce. You can also find them in baby food. They typically have bold colorants that require oxidizing agents to break down and eliminate them, hence their namesake in the dry-cleaning industry.
If you’re trying to learn how to remove oil stains from clothes with home remedies, the quickest way to eliminate oxidizable stains is hydrogen peroxide. It won’t remove the grease per se but will break up the chemical bonds that make dyes, ink, and other colorants visible. The stain will still be there, but no one will see it after application.
If you’re looking for a way to remove oxidizable stains permanently, supplement your hydrogen peroxide solution with TAED or Tetra Acetyl Ethylene Diamine as a spot cleaner or presoak. Because we’re a commercial operation, or technicians buy TAED by the drum, but you can get small quantities in many online shops.
Hydrogen peroxide loses some of its bleaching strength when you’re washing stained clothes below 40°C, and combining it with TAED creates peracetic acid, a high-strength bleaching solution. TAED is part of the EPA Safer Choice program because of its low toxicity and volatile material content. It’s also 100% biodegradable, so it’s better for the Earth than most cleaning solutions on the market.
When people look up how to remove oil stains from shirts and skirts, chances are, they’re looking for ways to get rid of greasy substances. Oil stains from margarine, cooking oils, and motor fluids compose a large percentage of our dry-cleaning duties at Judi’s Cleaners, and we’re proud to say that we’re experts in eliminating them.
Butter and margarine contain emulsifiers and animal fats that allow them to soak into clothes very quickly. They are not water-soluble, so reaching for dish soaps and fabric detergents the moment you get them on your clothes is pointless. One of our favorite strategies to remove grease involves using baking soda.
Here’s what we tell our clients when they get a butter or grease stain at a social function:
- Carry a packet of baking soda in your clothes care kit
- Blot away as much grease as you can
- Apply baking soda directly onto the stain
- Allow it to soak for 15 minutes
- Re-apply some more and let it sit for half an hour
- Repeat until all traces of grease are gone
- Work a few drops of dish soap on your fingers and apply it to the stain
- Let it sit for half an hour or more
- Launder your clothes the usual way when you get home
Particulate oil stains are the most common clothing issue parents face. Children can be hard to control, and they love running around and eating fatty and oily foods, such as hotdogs and french fries. Sometimes, the grease from these foods combines with particulate matter, such as mud, dirt, and grime, creating a nightmare for people who want their kids to look well-groomed.
Professionals remove particulate stains using builders. Builders are chemical compounds that eliminate the positive metal ions in tap water, such as magnesium, calcium, and carbon. This process allows your washing machine to break up dirt particles more efficiently.
Builders are also effective for tree sap stain removal and cleaning your clothes after a car splashes you with a puddle of oily water. You won’t find any quick fixes for particulate oil stains, sadly, but they’re easy to remove once you get home.
Most detergents are already capable of changing the pH factor of your tap water, so you don’t have to do anything extra. They can buffer your tap water, which helps it maintain alkalinity levels conducive to stain removal, stopping the particulate matter from traveling from one article of clothing to another.
The faster you try to remove oil stains from your clothes, the easier they come off. Some oil stains become permanent within a few hours of drying, so don’t procrastinate if you want to keep your clothes looking brand-new and well-maintained.
We get calls from many customers asking if they can use hot water to remove an oil stain, and the first thing we request them to do is read the care instructions on the labels on their clothes. Two articles of clothing with the same materials can require different standards of care because of their stitching and dyes. So, do not just assume that a fix that works for one shirt will work on another.
Your dryer will heat an oil stain and cause it to leave a permanent mark on your clothes. Even if an oil stain is no longer visible, make sure that you remove 100% of the grease during laundering.
Related: Does Air Drying Shrink Clothes?
If you want more information on how to get oil stains out of clothes, contact the experts at Judi’s Cleaners. We have years of experience removing oil, paint, and ink stains from all kinds of fabrics.